Sign In
Boston Public Health Commission Home



How do I find out for sure if I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

Get tested! It's the only way to know. The majority of the STIs do not cause any symptoms, so you might not notice that something is wrong. In fact, most women with Chlamydia or gonorrhea don't know they have it.

If you do have symptoms, it is important to go to your healthcare provide to get tested and treated for the STI. To find out more about STIs and symptoms, read our fact sheets.

When should I get tested?
Annual testing for some STIs is a good idea if you are sexually active. You are the person who can best protect your health. Below are general guidelines on STI testing.

You should be tested:

  • If you have symptoms 
  • Every year (even if you don't have any symptoms) if you are a sexually active and age 24 years or younger 
  • If you change sex partners 
  • If you have more than one sex partner 
  • If your partner has more than one sex partner 
  • If you do not use a condom or dental dam EVERY TIME you have sexual intercourse
​​​​How does the test work?
Testing for each STI is slightly different. To compare the different STI tests by infection, look below:

Urine test: a medical provider will ask you to provide a urine sample in a cup. 

  • This test is commonly used for Chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Blood test: a medical provider will take a small sample of your blood to test for infection.

  • This test is commonly used for syphilis and HIV

A swab: A medical provider will take a sample from an infected area to test for a particular germ. This test is often performed on individuals who have symptoms but can be used in people without symptoms.

  • This test is commonly used for Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Some rapid HIV tests also use swabs.

Physical Exam: A medical provider will perform a physical exam, looking at the infected area. This type of test is usually performed on individuals who are currently experiencing symptoms.

  • This test is commonly used for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), genital warts, syphilis, genital herpes, pubic lice and scabies.
Where can I get tested? 
All community health centers and hospitals in Boston offer STI testing. To find a clinic in your neighborhood, visit or call Mayor's Health Line (MHL) at 617-534-5050 (Toll-Free: 1-800-847-0710)​.


If I'm under 18, can I get tested without my parents' permission?
Yes. In Massachusetts, if you are age 13 or older you can get a confidential STI test without your parents' permission - it's the law​!

For additional resources go to: Where Can I get Tested?

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: